LEARNING an African language could become a condition for graduating in the near future.
This move was suggested by higher education minister Blade Nzimande and has caused quite a stir in the media and among citizens. Reading articles on Media24’s website, I was amused and shocked to see some of the comments that were made. They ranged from it being a good idea and developing our skills, to “Blade, what are you smoking because it really has to be some good stuff”.
In a way I agree with the smoking theory. Why introduce this at such a late stage in the education process? Why not introduce it when our brains are young, fresh and eager to absorb new information? It has been proven that after the age of 12 the ability to learn a new language is almost gone. That makes things even worse for older learners because we learn slower and forget faster.
On the other hand, I believe the move could be a good idea and it is a great skill to have, even though the thought of learning a new language sets off warning lights in my brain. It is in this area specifically that I admire black people. They often speak five to six languages fluently, compared to my measly two and a half. The half being slang and the little bit of Sesotho I can remember from school.
Adding to the already heated conversation, CEO of the Pan South African Language Board, Chris Swepu, challenged government to make speaking one African language part of the requirement for employment in the public service.
This is definitely something that would make me sit up and pay attention if I was planning on working in the public sector.
The idea might be met with some resistance, especially from students who still have to go through it (sucks to be you), but it could also add to our already diversified nation.
So let’s stop acting like variki’s and say sawubona and dumela to African languages.